[EN] Firefly Media Server: How does it act with a big music collection?

Purpose and requirements:
The purpose of this test is to estabilish how Firefly Media Server works with a big music collection. I assume you know how download the right .dmg image from Firefly website, how mount it and how install the preference panel inside it.

Hardware used to run the test:
– iBook G4 1,33, 512MB RAM running Mac OS X 10.4.9, iTunes 7.2 and Firefly Media Server svn-1489;
– External Hard disk (enclosure: Macpower Pleiades USB2.0 + Firewire 400, hard drive: Seagate 500GB 7200RPM) plugged via Firewire (that is faster than USB);
– Lynksys WRT54GL router.

How’s gone:
According to Firefly log (= “firefly.log“, placed in: “/Users/<YourUserName>/Library/Application Support/Firefly/”), Firefly took 939 seconds (ca 15 minutes) to scan my entire collection (45000+ tracks), as you see:

2007-07-15 19:45:32 (a000ed88): Starting mp3 scan
2007-07-15 20:01:11 (a000ed88): Serving 45595 songs.  Startup complete in 939 seconds

To accomplish a so nice result, I suggest you to customize your firefly.conf file, that is very clear and easy to understand if you have some minimum english skills. On Mac, you can find it in the same folder of the firefly.log file.
The modifies I did are:

– “rescan_interval = 0” (the default value was “300”), to limit cpu usage; I don’t add new mp3s frequently, so I don’t need rescans.

– “process_m3u = 0” (the default value was “1”); I have tons of old m3u files that point to old windows paths (like “c:\music\mysong.mp3”), that really have no sense on an *Nix enviroment, so there is no need to precess them.

– “scan_type = 0” (the default value was “2”); it seems that the “Painfully aggressive” mode really slows down the scanning procedure and exponentially increase the stress on the hard disk , so I went for a safer “Normal” mode.

My situation:
I actually use Firefly to stream the music from my external hard disk to my laptop, using a router and my Airport card (of course, they belong to the same WLAN).
This could sounds dumb to you, but it seems to be the only method I have to listen to that music using iTunes without saturate my iBook resources. All the music I have on my external drive is catalogued inside an “external” iTunes LIbrary (with ratings, smart playlists and more), but with my actual hardware is nearly impossible for me to load that library with iTunes and keep other apps open and responsive.
That’s because iTunes is not designed to handle such great libraries, so it takes a scandalous amount of RAM (ca 400Mb!) just to load that “external” library. So, if I load that library, I have so little free RAM that also working with TextEdit is a pain.
So I use Firefly as DAAP server and iTunes (loading my “local” library, made up of few songs and podcasts stored on my local hard drive) as DAAP client, and things work good! Firefly takes really few resources and iTunes has no problem to read big shared libraries.

– You can start or stop the server with one click from the menubar;


– Low resources needed (Process name, CPU %, real RAM, virtual RAM);

– You can load two libraries at the same time (in my case, the “local” one via iTunes and the “external” one via DAAP sharing);
– You can share your music with your friends that randomly come to you house with their laptops;
– Firefly streams covers gorgeusly =)

– iTunes, at least on my machine, takes 1-2 minutes to load the whole shared library;
– Shared songs start 3 seconds after you double click on them;
– You can’t set ratings;
– You can’t use “Album view” and “CoverFlow view” on the shared library (just the standard “List view” is available);
– iTunes will not save play counts, last played etc;
– You can’t read lyrics;
– You can’t change tags;
– You or your friends can’t copy to the local drive the shared songs (at least if they use iTunes as client);
– Firefly periodically use 50-60% of the CPU for some minutes (I don’t know why yet);


If Firefly starts taking an insanely big amount of real and virtual memory, until it totally freeze your computer (this happened to me both on my Mac and on my PC and I needed some time to figure out why), maybe you have some music files it doesn’t like (read “corrupted” or something like that), you have to:
1. move away all your music files from your “music folder” (the one you set inside Firefly preferences);
2. add few of them and start Firefly, while you constantly check your firefly.log file and your system monitor;
3. when a line like the following appears in the log

2007-07-15 19:05:34 (a000ed88): Serving 10595 songs.  Startup complete in 43 seconds

stop Firefly, add few other songs to your music folder and restart Firefly;
4. repeat point #3 until Firefly doesn’t start increasing its RAM needs, then kill the process: the last music files you added are the ones which Firefly dislikes =)

I haven’t found yet a workaround to this, neither I have identified the exact mp3/mp3s disliked by Firefly (I have a bunch of folders) but when I will find it, I will share all the infos here =) That’s all for now. More testings and usage impressions will come soon.

“Firefly Media Server for Linux and Windows”: http://www.fireflymediaserver.org/
“Firefly Media Server for Mac”: http://www.rokulabs.com/firefly



3 Responses to [EN] Firefly Media Server: How does it act with a big music collection?

  1. Oncecaribou ha detto:

    I use Firefly for my 50,000+ song collection via a D-Link DNS-323 NAS. It’s fantastic, startup is very fast and my songs are backed up via RAID.

    Serving 58572 songs. Startup complete in 145 seconds

    I also had issues with non-western character songs as well but if I recall correctly they showed up in the ffly.log and I just renamed the files/tags.

    A guy on the Firefly forums has worked out a Flash/html client that loads way faster than itunes. It’s called Fireplay and library loads take less than a minute, lets you downloads mp3’s from it and even works on the Wii.


    Good luck!

  2. eldino ha detto:

    Hello dude, thank you very much for tip. I don’t read the Firefly forum from a while, so I didn’t know about this cool Flash app.. Im gonna test it today 🙂 It seems very good, judging by the posts 🙂


  3. shantanu goel ha detto:


    I made some fixes to the latest trunk version of FireFly and compiled it. This version fixes many of the crashes and security issues and also adds some missing database functionalities. Would you like to try it out? I’ve posted up the binaries as well as instructions on how to compile it (along with my modified sources) at:
    Please let me know if you have any comments/queries. I hope we can keep this great little media server going 🙂


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